As our neighbors in Minnesota enjoy a nearly $2 billion budget surplus, and Scott Walker campaigns for president, Wisconsin is facing a self-inflicted $2.2 billion budget deficit – and it’s time for Scott Walker to be held accountable for the state’s fiscal disaster.
That’s according to the editorial board at The Chippewa Herald, which yesterday asked the question, “Why does Wisconsin have to make so many drastic budget cuts in order to address a projected $2.2 billion deficit?”
Scott Walker has always justified his overreaching policies, like his contentious and career-defining Act 10 legislation that eliminated collective bargaining for public employees and his $1.6 billion cut to public education, as necessary to balance the budget.
Why then, the Herald asks, with “countless legislative and executive actions taken to streamline government and ease regulation on business, create jobs and stimulate the economy”, is Wisconsin still facing huge cuts in spending on education?” And, “why after all the change and all the rancor, is Wisconsin facing a projected deficit?”
Last session, in an election year stunt, Walker and his Republican legislature spent a projected surplus into a deficit with a series of tax cuts that primarily benefited top wage earners. Now, the state is faced with an immediate budget shortfall of $283 million, a $2.2 billion budget deficit for the upcoming biennium, and a $900 million shortfall in the transportation budget. Scott Walker has proposed plugging those huge budget holes in part with a $300 million cut to the UW System, delaying more than $100 million in debt repayment, and nearly a billion dollars in new borrowing to pay for transportation and infrastructure projects. At the same time, Walker is rejecting federal funds to expand BadgerCare that would save the state upwards of $345 million and insure more people, according to estimates from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
“All of Scott Walker's attacks on middle class families have been done in the name of ‘fiscal responsibility,’ a theme he keeps repeating as he campaigns for president all over the country,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Monday. “The fact that his policies have created a staggering $2.2 billion deficit gives the lie to every single one of those claims about making so-called tough choices to balance the budget – and people in Wisconsin are starting to notice in a big way.”
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